Just over two weeks ago at World Cup finals in Lenzerheide, Switzerland the Squaw Valley, California native outdistanced her nearest challenger – Swiss favorite Lara Gut - by a colossal eighty-one hundredths of a second to claim the ladies downhill. For Mancuso, it was her first victory on tour in over four years dating back to March 3, 2007, when she won a downhill in Tarvisio, Italy.
“I nailed the parts that had been missing in training and I risked a lot on the other sections, so for me it was the perfect run and the only way I wanted to end the season,” said Mancuso in the Lenzerheide finish area after her 1:27.50 winning descent down the Silvano Beltrametti piste.
“I feel like I really charged down the pitch and was on the limit a couple of times, but stayed on my feet so it was good,” she said.
“That was unbelievable, her winning by eight-tenths,” said her Norwegian beau, Aksel Lund Svindal.
While most eyes were focused on a surging Lindsey Vonn in her compelling duel with Maria Riesch for the overall title, Mancuso concluded her eleventh World Cup season landing on three podiums over the final seven races.
Prior to Lenzerheide, the free-spirited Californian posted a second in super-G on in Tarvisio on March 6, 23-hundredths behind Vonn. She also ended third in the same discipline in Are, Sweden, on February 27.
The late-season rally in the speed events enabled Mancuso to achieve top three’s in both the downhill and super-G standings.
“I was fighting for third all year with the other girls, but its been up and down,” she said about her downhill season. “To secure it with a win, I think it’s the best way so it’s cool.”
She also finished fifth in the overall standings, having only placed higher in 2007, when she was third. Two downhill and three super-G podiums contributed to her 976-point total. Austria’s Liz Goergl was only a marginal 16-points ahead of the American racer in fourth place.
Mancuso’s prosperous season also included speeding to super-G silver medal at the World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany on February 8.
An eleven-time National Champion, the recently turned 27-year-old, will seek to add to her palmarès beginning with Friday’s giant slalom – an event that she has captured five-times at Nationals, including last season in Lake Placid, NY.
“U.S. championships are always a fun way to close the season," said Mancuso. "I'll definitely be racing everything in Winter Park."
On Saturday, the schedule in Winter Park continues with a super-G – an event which she won in both 2003 (Lake Placid, NY) and 2007 (Alyeska, AK) – and culminates on Sunday with a slalom. The U.S. downhill crown was determined earlier in February at Aspen, Colorado with Julia Ford taking top honors.
And regarding next season’s “White Circus” – could a run at the top of the overall standings be in the cards for the three-time Olympic medalist who clearly regained her World Cup swagger over the past five months?
“Every year I’ve been wanting to do that,” said Mancuso in Lenzerheide. “It’s just a matter of getting everything dialed in and being in contention to win every race. I think that takes a little more work, but I’m close, so that’s the nicest place to be.”